Monday, August 13, 2018

CY's Lost Marbles

My immediate reaction to this headline was that Hong Kong's former Chief Executive - apart from confirming Godwin's Law - has lost his marbles.  Reading the article only confirmed this.  There are several layers of irony here - one being that the hysterical over-reaction of pro-Beijing forces in Hong Kong, and CY in particular, has done more to bring the ideas of Andy Chan and other independence advocates to public attention than they could ever have achieved unaided.

Another irony is that if you are seeking a genuine contemporary equivalent to Nazism, the current mass roundup, incarceration and brainwashing of Muslims in concentration camps in China's northwest would provide a much closer analogy than one young man freely expressing his opinion in the FCC.  But that is being done by the very government for which CY is such an ardent apologist, so we won't hear a word from him about this particular egregious abuse of human rights.

A third irony is that the pro-China camp's heavy-handed attempts to derail Andy Chan's planned speech reinforce his assertion that Hong Kong can only enjoy true freedom outside the suffocating embrace of the motherland.  While most of us don't regard Hong Kong independence as either likely or practical, those most determined to prevent it are inadvertently strengthening the case in support of it.

Monday, August 06, 2018

A home on the rolling deep

The last thing the critically endangered Chinese white dolphin population in the Pearl River Estuary needs is thoughtless politicians advocating yet more development in their territory.  See here and here.

Making It Better:
Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society
WWF Hong Kong

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

It’s Good News Week! (and blame the ref for the bad news)

Watching the news these days is usually a depressing experience, as Donald Trump continues to insult America’s friends and embrace its enemies, the UK continues to lurch like a lame lemming towards the fecal morass of Brexit, and human rights are increasingly under threat everywhere from Venezuela to Vladivostok – via Hong Kong.  However, the last week or two has been unusual in that there have actually been a few items of good news for a change.  For one, Liu Xia was finally released from house arrest in China and allowed to leave the country.

Meanwhile in Thailand the 12 young lads and their football coach trapped in a flooded cave complex were all safely rescued.  What made this case particularly heartwarming was that experts came from all over the world to contribute to the complex but finally successful operation to save the boys.  In a world full of division and strife, it is refreshing to see people cooperating across national borders to help others – that’s the way the world should work.

And until the semi-final, the unexpectedly successful run of England’s football team in the World Cup was – if you’re English – another cause for celebration.  Then they had the misfortune to come up against not just the mighty Croatian team but the Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir, who provided some of the worst refereeing I’ve ever witnessed in a major tournament.  In the early stages of the game, Croatian players went on an orgy of pushing, shoving, tripping, obstruction, elbowing and shirt-grabbing, much of it directed at England captain Harry Kane, and all of it ignored by the ref.  If he had stamped his authority on the game at this stage, who knows how much more Kane could have achieved with more room to move, rather than being hemmed in by a string of fouls?

When Cakir did eventually get around to booking a Croatian player, the commentator was convinced that he’d picked the wrong one (though the correct one picked up a yellow card later).  And if the ref’s objective was to keep the game flowing by ignoring minor transgressions, then why did he stop play for one foul on an England player when England still had possession and were charging forward, instead of applying the advantage rule?

But perhaps Cakir’s worst error was to give Croatia a goal kick when video coverage clearly showed that England should have been awarded a corner.  A quick look at the VAR would have made this obvious, yet Cakir was oblivious – as he generally was throughout the game – to all pleas, entreaties and complaints.  A truly shoddy performance which has rightly attracted heavy criticism (and accusations of bias) online.

None of which is to say that England would necessarily have won under a better official – it’s too easy to blame the referee for a loss.  England certainly made mistakes, and when not testing the limits of the rulebook the Croatian team – especially Luka Modric – played some magnificent football.  Yet England’s young team, under the superb management of Gareth Southgate, went far further in this tournament than anyone expected, playing intelligent football with passion, commitment to the very last minute of the game, and strong team spirit without a trace of a superstar ego.  They are still maturing, and I look forward to seeing them do better in future tournaments – under a different referee.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Leaving from the front

The Great Leap Forward, UK style.

Exactly according to the script

See yesterday's post for the script.  Only one question remains: is Trump really the naive total idiot he appears to be, or a very cleverly disguised covert Russian agent?

P.S. On second thoughts, "cleverly" is giving Trump too much credit.  Replace that with "thinly".

Monday, July 16, 2018

Sticking to the script

You may have assumed from Donald Trump's tendency to veer wildly off-topic and to make up his own facts as he goes along that his speeches are entirely spontaneous utterances.  In fact, everything he says is carefully scripted.  As proof of this, I received the following draft from a White House source who found it, in Trump's own distinctive handwriting, on a scrap of paper discarded in an Oval Office wastebin.  It appears to be part of Trump's preparations for his lovefest today with his puppetmaster Vladimir Putin.
Trump: What's all this about Russia interfering in the US Presidential election?
Putin: Nothing to do with us - that's FAKE NEWS.
Trump: Great!  So that's all right then.